Book Review: Bhai for Now by Maleeha Siddiqui
A fresh and fun new spin on the Parent-Trap story, by Indies Introduce author Maleeha Siddiqui
Ashar is busy with the ice hockey team, studying to get into the best school, and hanging out with his friends.
Shaheer and his father are always moving, following his dad’s jobs. Shaheer has given up hope of finding a place where he can put down roots, a place that feels like home.
The two boys have nothing in common.
But when they meet on Shaheer’s first day at his new school, it’s like looking in a mirror.
They quickly figure out that they’re twins, separated as babies. And they are determined to do whatever it takes—including secretly switching identities—to get to know the parent they’ve been separated from.
This is the story of two long-lost brothers who, while they might not like each other, just might need each other. Bhai for Now is by turns heartwarming and hilarious, and with an unforgettable Muslim family and friendship story at its core.
Can I tell you something? I’ve never seen any version of The Parent Trap. It’s just one of those things that’s always escaped me. But I know enough about it to say that this book is Parent Trap-esque. Do today’s readers even know the reference to the movies? I’ll have to do an informal poll one day at school. At any rate, watching twins Ashar and Shaheer meet as 8th graders after having been separated their whole lives (because, for some really unknowable reason, their parents decided that when they split up when the kids were just babies, they would each take one, never mention the existence of the other, and never see each other again) was a real kick. Imagine not just meeting a long-lost sibling, but a twin! Wild! It’s their decision to keep their parents in the dark about their meeting (because they have coincidentally all ended up in the same city) that really makes the story interesting. They’re interacting at school, putting all the pieces together, and eventually swapping places so they can spend time with the parent they’ve never known, while all the while their parents are none the wiser. But keep an eye on that smart grandpa, who’s pretty observant!
Both boys have such distinct personalities, interests, and voices. Things do get a little complex when they’re masquerading as the other sibling, but readers will figure it out! While this is obviously a story about family, about a nuclear family that’s been apart due to somewhat strange circumstances/choices, it’s also about extended family, community, friendship, and finding home. It’s well-paced, funny, and full of heart. Somehow I skipped this author’s first book, Barakah Beats, so I’ll need to remedy that ASAP. Nice to see a middle grade featuring Muslim boys. Wide appeal with this title!
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 10/04/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network